Category Archives: Web Development

Windows Media Player Plugin for Mozilla

While developing and testing video/audio features for the PR project I found WMP caused Firefox to crash consistently upon closing (video/audio would play once, then any subsequent actions resulted in a browser crash).

Error (something to the extent of):

Windows Media Player Plug-in Dynamic Library

This plug-in has performed an illegal operation…

This did not occur in the previous PR release, so I’m guessing it may represents an incompatibility between WMP and more recent Firefox updates. I found this related technote ( which accurately described the problem I was having. I tested the plug-in and surprisingly it worked. I say surprisingly because the download site seems to be almost a year old. In addition, the new plug-in seems to be able to manage the configuration settings better than before. I’d like to suggest this plug-in be added to future updates for the rest of the department, but we may want to find out if others experience similar issues with WMP under the latest release of FF ( and/or what specifically is causing the crash. I have my theories, but with the new plug-in I may not be able to test them. I’d like to know if anyone else encounters this.

Plug-in Download site:

Items: Summary Tables Update

The number produced by summary table 8 in the items utility were not quite correct. The researchers noted that the means by which calculation of answer selection was performed was not quite as they wanted it.

Luckily table 8 uses a new summary table generation technique I borrowed from the school reports. The data, display, and summarization code is segregated to a certain degree (though not as much as would be preferred). This allows me to update one aspect of the script without having to monkey around too much with other aspects.

The data is currently stored in a data array that is organized to allow for relatively easy access. The summary information is currently compiled inline in the code. While this isn’t ideal, the method used (summary arrays) should allow for better segregation in the future. The calculation of concern is stored in its own function, answer_selected(). That function includes some basic versioning capability and so I was able to add a new version of the calculation that matches the researchers expectation without changing anything else in the code.

I think a modification of this technique would work well for all tables in the utility and should not require significant investment in development time. As additional tables need work I may investigate adding them as components of the new summary table script (summary_table.php).

Stupid Dreamweaver Bug

After making some seemingly insignificant changes to a css file, Dreamweaver CS3/9 suddenly crashed. System restart did not work nor did recreating user config. Before re-installing I chanced upon this blog entry on Google groups. Look for a comment by David Powers regarding a bug wherein if a file is exactly 8,192kb (or a multiple of), the site caching fails and the application crashes. Amazingly he was right. I added a few bytes to the file and problem solved. This has got to be the stupidest thing I’ve heard in a while.

BOL updates

The search upgrades and bug fix have been implemented and uploaded to the development and production servers.

Search filtering by current bm, old bm, prose has been corrected.

Fulltext viewing is now available for each search result (‘fulltext’ link following the truncated text), or all search results (‘Output Format’ menu option).

A new results formating option currently labeled ‘Custom1′ is in the Output Format’ menu which displays the results in table format similar to old BOL search result output.

Files updated:
index.php, bol_search_func.php, bol.js

Dreamweaver Instability

Lately I haven’t been able to use Dreamweaver to edit ASP or PHP pages without it crashing. After a quick search of the web I found that this is a known problem with a fairly simple solution. See the following KB from Adobe: Dreamweaver CS3 crashes after Daylight Savings Time ends.

The title of the post doesn’t really seem relevant at first, but a quick read of the content of the KB shows it to be exactly the problem I was encountering.

Found via Blogvaria.

Working with OAI

We’ve been helping with the development of the PRISMS resource review utility and public interface.

Our most recent task was to find a way to provide access to the data in an exchange format compatible with the NSDL. To do this we were looking for a PHP-based OAI provider that could interface with our MySQL database. We found a capable application in the work of Heinrich Stamerjohanns. He has put together a set of PHP scripts which provides exactly the kind of functionality we needed.

Continue reading Working with OAI

PHP Session Timeout

The items utility has had a nasty habit of timing out users after a relatively short amount of time. In the past I tried extending the cookie timeout, but that didn’t really seem to help. The problem has been troublesome because it seems to happen almost randomly.

A little web research has led me to another conclusion as to the source of the problem: session data garbage collection.

Continue reading PHP Session Timeout